entrepreneurship

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Twenty small businesses are finalists for $500,000 in public-private grant money to help the metro area nurture its tech and entrepreneurial environment.

LaunchKC, part of the city's economic development effort, will select 10 of the 20 finalists during Techweek in September.

Agriculture and health technology companies are heavily represented among the winners in the contest - only in it's second year.

National startup activity has been dragging the last few years, but that is starting to change. We’ll learn how the country may finally be breaking free of the effects of the Great Recession. 

Guest:

There are two things a new business can’t do without: a great idea, and money. Lucky for us, Kansas City’s got a vibrant entrepreneurial community, but what about that second piece of the puzzle? We examine the availability and accessibility of start-up capital in the metro.

Guests:

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

To an observer, Mahlet Yeshitla is sitting in a chair with a large headset covering most of her face, waving her arms at the empty space in front of her.

But from her perspective, she's using cubes to create building blocks.

“It does feel like you’re in a room, at a table, just building things,” Yeshitla said.

Augie Grasis
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Augie Grasis doesn’t shy away from the label “serial entrepreneur.”

“I guess it’s true from the standpoint that I’ve had a number of startups,” says Grasis, the founder of multiple technology companies in Kansas City. “It’s really what interests me the most and what turns me on the most about life and about commerce. It’s innovating and improving the way things are done.”

Grasis is best known for starting up Handmark, which made content apps for the Palm operating system before expanding to other platforms and being acquired by Sprint in 2013.

Courtesy U2D, Inc.

A device that could improve homeland security, help the military and protect workers in nuclear facilities and hospitals has won a coveted award for a team led by a UMKC professor.

Physics professor Anthony Caruso led a team of 20 student researchers plus researchers at MU-Columbia and Kansas State University and two private companies in taking the product from concept through prototype to production.

Wikimedia Commons

Kansas City innovators will have an opportunity to develop business ideas in a new program for people who want to change the energy industry.

Digital Sandbox KC is partnering with GXP Investments, an area energy investor. They’re collaborating to create Energy Sandbox, which will help entrepreneurs take ideas, test their feasibility and develop prototypes.

Few things compare to the satisfaction of building something with your own hands  — making things has always been a fundamental part of what humans do. The maker movement embraces these things, and aims to put high-tech tools into everyone’s hands.

KC Social Innovation Center

Three Kansas City startups will receive a combined $59,000 from the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund to expand and develop programs that promote innovation in the classroom.

KC Social Innovation Center, PlanIT Impact and  Pennez were awarded money for using Kansas City’s gigabit internet to create new ways to learn.

Internet-connected water and electrical meters as well as new technology like leak detection in underground pipes means public utility providers now have huge opportunities to increase efficiency. Rolling out that new tech can not only help cut costs and head off expensive failures, but can also create new revenue streams for cities.

Guests:

Once every water and gas meter, light pole, park bench, and parking spot is collecting statistics, just how do you turn all that data into useful information? Allowing access to everyone who wants to see and analyze that data can lead to amazing things, and can change people's relationships with their city.

Guests:

In this encore presentation of Central Standard: We look at Kansas City's buzzwords with the people who best understand the true meaning of our favorite catch-phrases. 

In this installment, we ask what it really means to be an entrepreneur, how you pronounce the word, and how to correctly use it in a sentence. It's an important step for us to take, as a city, if we want to be known for our entr... entrep... entrepreneurial spirit.

Guest:

thecollectivefunds.co

About a year ago, a group of Kansas City entrepreneurs noticed a troubling pattern — they were having the same conversations over and over again with their peers.

Working For The Weekend

May 2, 2016
James Carr / Wikipedia

The weekend is a beloved institution. It allows us time "for what we will." It also has a storied past in America. That history, plus an examination of the work week in transition. Are we losing the 40-hour work week and with it the weekend? Or are we gaining flexibility?

Guests:

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

A child care co-op. An eHarmony for high school mentors. An avatar that shows kids how the food they eat affects them.

On Friday, all of these were just ideas. By Sunday night, they’ll be reality.

Entrepreneurs from all over the region gathered this weekend to re-imagine the future of education by developing tools, apps, and educational resources — all in 54 hours.

Coy Dugger / KCUR 89.3

Stepping through the doors of the Harry J. Epstein Co. hardware and surplus shop in downtown Kansas City, Missouri is like stepping through time.

At first glance, Epstein’s looks like an old-fashioned, everyday hardware store. The shelves are lined with packages of bolts, and bins are stocked with piles of steel hand tools. 

But not all of the items are what you would find in an everyday tool shed. Some of Epstein’s more unusual products would make even the most proficient garage guru green with envy.

LaunchKC

Entrepreneurs often say one of the hardest parts of getting a new business off the ground is raising enough capital to stay afloat in the initial lean years. 

Metro-based technology funder LaunchKC hopes to help bridge those early years for several startups with the latest version of a competition that's set to dole out $500,000 in funding this summer. The group began accepting applications for this year's startup grants competition Friday. 

Shawnee Mission School District

Being in high-school can feel like a full-time job — eight hours a day in the classroom, plus schoolwork to do at home.

Throw in an after school job and a few extra curricular activities and you’ve got a very busy teen.

Kansas City-area high-schoolers Dawson Borcherding and Daniel Serres have taken that already busy schedule one step further.

Both started their own companies before they turned 17.

Young Leaf Landscaping

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

When Jim McKelvey started his company Square in St. Louis, he noticed a big problem. 

Every time he would hire a new engineer, he would get an angry phone call from their previous company accusing him of stealing their best programmer. 

"By the time I got the fourth call, it was obvious that the only way we could grow our company was at the expense of other firms in town," McKelvey says.  

As heartbreaking as it was to leave his hometown, McKelvey and his co-founder closed their St. Louis office.

Richard Garriot de Cayeux is revered for his video game creations. Now, he’s set his sights on getting ordinary citizens  into outer space.

Richard Garriot de Cayeux presents 'From the Beginnings of Computer Games to Private Space' Flight at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16 at the Linda Hall Library. The event is sold out but will be available on a livestream.

South By Southwest has a reputation for being on the cutting edge of technology and startup trends, and Kansas City had a strong showing at this year's Interactive festival.

Guest:

  • Bobby Burch is the editor-in-chief of Startland News. He attended this year's SXSW Interactive festival. 
Callie England
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Callie England felt sick all the time. She went to doctors. She got her blood tested. By the time she was 21, she had taken more than 3,000 prescription pills and was at her wit’s end.

And then she changed what she ate.

More companies are beginning to worry about diversity in their offices as the American workforce experiences a huge demographic shift. As Kansas City's entrepreneurial community continues to grow, it has the opportunity to avoid the same inclusion problems that plague Silicon Valley. 

Guest:

Undecided on your candidates this election? There's an app for that. On this edition of Up To Date, we talk voter "matchmaking" apps, new technology and how candidates are using different platforms to reach citizens.

Guests:

Sam Green and Nick Ward-Bopp
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Drivers speeding by on 31st Street near Cherry in Midtown, Kansas City, probably rarely noticed the building — its windows boarded up like so many others. That is, until last week.

Behind those boards — and now, a gleaming new glass façade — Maker Village KC is taking shape. Co-owners and founders Sam Green and Nick Ward-Bopp are inside most nights and weekends demolishing, renovating and building. 

New business creation in the United States is half of what it was in the 80s. There is reason for optimism, though, as a wave of millennials enters the peak age for business creation. The question is: Will public policy support or interfere with this new wave of entrepreneurship?

Guest:

  • Dane Stangler is the vice president of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation.
Little Class Records

It’s impossible not to hear the life experience in Billy Beale’s time-worn voice.

As the Kansas City blues-staple sings the lyrics, “the only time I’ve been successful’s when I fell,” local record producer Jody Hendrix is reminded of why he felt compelled to document that singular sound.

“Billy is a legend in the bar rooms, the juke joints, and the courtrooms,” Hendrix told Steve Kraske on KCUR’s Up To Date.

Frank Morris / KCUR

A technology company called Pramata is branching out to Kansas City.  The company’s office in Kansas City's Crossroads neighborhood will be its only U.S. hub outside of the San Francisco area.

Steven Washington says the answer to racial equality in the United States is not black and white — it's green. The Philadelphia real-estate investor says that entrepreneurship is be the key to establishing economic empowerment for African-Americans. 

From the singular twang of a flat-picked guitar to the tight harmonies of a bluegrass band, folk music is more than a sound — it’s an essence. Local labels Mud Stomp Records and Little Class Records work not only to preserve that essence, but to show the rest of the world what Heartland artists have to offer. 

Guests:

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